Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
Get the facts before you vote.
Brought to you by
MapLight
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
November 3, 2020 — California General Election
Invest in unbiased information

With your support, we can reach and inform more voters.

Donate now to spread the word.

Special District

San Diego Unified School District
Measure C Charter Amendment - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passing

308,270 votes yes (69.4%)

135,965 votes no (30.6%)

CHARTER AMENDMENT: DISTRICT-ONLY ELECTIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS. Shall the Charter be amended to change the process for electing School Board members in the San Diego Unified School District, by providing that voters in individual sub-districts nominate and elect their representative in both the primary and general elections, rather than the current system in which candidates are nominated in individual sub-districts in the primary but advance to a general election in the entire School District?

What is this proposal?

Pros & Cons — Unbiased explanation with arguments for and against

Information provided by Source: League of Women Voters San Diego

The Question

Should the board members of the San Diego Unified School District be elected at a subdistrict-only primary and a subdistrict-only general election, rather than under the current system (a subdistrict-only primary, followed by an at-large general election in which all voters in the SDUSD vote on all candidates)?

The Situation

Current Law

The current Article VI, Section 66 mandates that SDUSD sub-districts that have a Board Member whose term expires the succeeding December must vote in the municipal primary election to nominate two candidates from that sub-district. At the general election, the registered voters of the whole SDUSD select one candidate among the two primary nominees for each District. This is known as a district-only primary and an at-large general election.

Additionally, in the event of a vacancy that remaining BoE members fail to fill within thirty (30) days, a special election must be held under the same method (that is, a sub-district-only primary and an at-large general election).

Context

The current city-wide SDUSD elections process was adopted in 1931 when San Diego had 125,000 residents.

Ballot Measure C was proposed during a process in which members of the public submitted ballot measure proposals for consideration by a Council standing committee and then the full Council. The Council voted to place the measure on the ballot.

The Proposal

 

If approved, the Charter amendments will establish, beginning with the 2022 Municipal Primary Election, a district-only process for electing School Board members that is the same as the process used to elect City Councilmembers:

  • In each sub-district whose elected member’s term expires the following December, two candidates for that district shall be nominated by the registered voters of that sub-district in the Municipal Primary Election. 

  • At the Municipal General Election, only the voters within each affected sub-district shall pick the winner from among the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes at the primary election in that sub-district.

Vacancies that the SDUSD Board fails to fill within 30 days would be filled by means of a two-part special election, with both the primary and general election being voted on within the affected sub-district.

Fiscal effect

If approved, this measure would result in a relatively small reduction in election costs for the School District.

Supporters say

  • At-large elections weaken the representation of small groups that don’t have a citywide base, thus denying communities the right to choose their own representative.
  • The current city-wide SDUSD elections process was adopted in 1931 when San Diego had 125,000 residents. Should candidates be expected to reach the current population of 1.4 million residents, instead of focusing on the district they will represent?
  • Measure C will reduce the time candidates spend on fundraising to remain competitive in city-wide races, thus allowing them to focus on delivering solutions to parents, students and their communities.
  • In May 2017, the San Diego County Grand Jury found that the current election process does not result in a board reflecting the diversity of the district.

These arguments have not been checked for factual accuracy by any official entity.

Opponents say

  • Presently, every voter in the entire school district votes for all five members of the School Board. If Measure C passes, voters may elect only one of the five members, and the other four will be elected by voters from other communities.  
  • The present system balances community needs and larger concerns by ensuring every board member cares about all the kids in every neighborhood in San Diego Unified.
  • District-only elections can be dominated by big-money special interests. People who want to privatize public education are behind Measure C.
  • The five districts are likely to be unbalanced with low-income neighborhoods grouped into one or two districts. Vote-rich areas will be able to elect a board majority and dominate school funding and other educational decisions.

These arguments have not been checked for factual accuracy by any official entity.

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Summary

Source: San Diego City Attorney's Office / San Diego City Clerk

BALLOT TITLE

Amendments to San Diego City Charter Section 66 to Establish District-Only Elections for Members of the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District

BALLOT SUMMARY

This measure would amend the San Diego City Charter (Charter) to establish district-only elections in both the primary and general elections for members of the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District (School Board). Charter Section 66 provides the procedures for School Board elections in the San Diego Unified School District (School District), as allowed by the California Constitution.

The school district is divided into five sub-districts, each with its own representative on the School Board. Charter section 66 currently provides that School Board members are nominated in prmary elections held in the individual sub-districts they seek to represent. The top two vote-getters nominated by the voters in an individual sub-district then advance to a general election held in the entire School District.

If adopted, this ballot measure will amend the Charter to provide that only the voters in an individual sub-district of the School Board may vote in both the primary and general elections to nominate and elect the School Board member who will represent their district.

In compliance with the California Constitution and California Elections Code, this ballot measure related to the procedures for School District elections has been submitted only to those voters who are registered to vote within School District boundaries.

The ballot measure was proposed during a process in which members of the public submitted ballot measure proposals for consideration by a Council standing committee and then the full Council. The Council voted to place the measure on the ballot. If approved, the Charter would be amended as of the date the California Secretary of State officially chapters the amendments.

Voters may note that Charter section 66 is the subject of a separate Charter amendment measure on the November 3, 2020 ballot that would establish procedures for filling vacancies on the School Board (along with amendments to other Charter sections). The amendments to Charter section 66 that are proposed in the two measures are not in conflict; each involves separate subjects requiring separate approval. The amendments in both measures are identical in part. If both measures are approved by the voters, the City of San Diego intends for both sets of amendments to Charter section 66 to take effect and to be submitted for chaptering by the California Secretary of State.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf#page=13

Background

Source: San Diego City Attorney's Office / San Diego City Clerk

The City Council adopted San Diego Ordinance O-21212 on July 7, 2020 to submit the Charter amendment measure to the voters on the November 3, 2020 Municipal Special Election ballot.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf#page=13

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Source: San Diego City Attorney's Office / San Diego City Clerk

CITY ATTORNEY’S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS

The California Constitution authorizes charter cities that include school districts to provide for “the manner in which, the times at which, and the terms for which the members of boards of education shall be elected or appointed, for their qualifications, compensation and removal, and for the number which shall constitute any one of such boards.” Cal. Cont. art. IX, § 16(a). This is the limit of a charter city’s authority over a school board.

San Diego City Charter (Charter) section 66 governs the composition and elections of the Board of Education of the San Diego Unified School District (School Board).

The Charter directs that the five members of the School Board are nominated in elections held in their individual sub-districts, with the top two vote-getters in the primary election in a given sub-district advancing to a general election by voters in the entire School District. This is known as a district-only primary and an at-large general election.

If approved, this ballot measure would amend the Charter to change the process in the general election. The amendments would provide that all School Board elections would be held in the individual sub-districts that a candidate seeks to represent, whether it is the primary or the general election. After the Charter is amended, candidates nominated in a primary election in their individual sub-district would advance to a run-off general election that is also held in the individual sub-district they seek to represent.

If approved, the Charter amendments will provide a district-only process for electing School Board members that is the same as the process used to elect City Councilmembers. Councilmembers are elected by voters in the districts they seek to represent, and not in citywide elections. Voters amended the Charter at the November 8, 1988 election to enact the “district-only” election system for the City Council.

The Charter amendments proposed in this measure also include minor changes for consistency with other Charter provisions, such as amendments to the titles of specific City elections.

To comply with the California Constitution and the California Education Code, this ballot measure related to the School District has been submitted only to those voters who are registered to vote within School District boundaries. To be adopted, the measure requires a majority vote of those voting on the measure.

A citizens’ organization called Parents for Quality Education proposed Charter amendments to establish district-only elections for School Board members in both the primary and general elections, as part of a process in which the City Council asks the public to submit ballot proposals. A City Council subcommittee heard the proposal at two hearings, and forwarded the proposal to the full City Council, which voted to place the measure on the ballot.

If approved, the Charter would be amended as of the date amendments are chaptered by the California Secretary of State. Based on the Secretary of State’s usual timelines to chapter Charter amendments, the amendments would be in effect for the next regularly scheduled School Board elections in 2022.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf#page=15

Financial effect

Source: City of San Diego Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) / San Diego City Clerk

FISCAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR CITY MEASURE ON NOVEMBER 3, 2020 BALLOT

MEASURE [C]. CHARTER AMENDMENT: DISTRICT-ONLY ELECTIONS FOR SCHOOL BOARD MEMBERS

This measure would amend the San Diego City Charter (Charter) to establish a district-only elections process to elect members of the Board of Education (School Board) of the San Diego Unified School District (School District). The Charter currently provides that School Board members are nominated in primary elections in their individual sub-districts but advance to a general election held in the entire School District. This ballot measure would amend Charter section 66 to provide district-only elections in both the primary and general elections for School Board members.

If approved, this measure would result in a relatively small reduction in election costs for the School District.

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/impartialtitlesummaryfiscalcombined-november2020.pdf#page=17

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

BRING LOCAL REPRESENTATION TO SDUSD ELECTIONS

ENSURES THE COMMUNITY’S CHOICE IS ELECTED
At-large elections weaken the representation of small groups that don’t have a citywide base. Candidates are nominated by district, but elected citywide, denying communities the right to choose their own representative. The California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) of 2001 allows groups that are geographically dispersed to elect their candidate of choice from single member districts. The current system drowns out voices of those who live in each district, allowing special interests to elect their preferred candidate.

LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR LOCAL CANDIDATES
The current city-wide SDUSD elections process was adopted in 1931, when San Diego had 125,000 residents. Candidates are still expected to reach the current population of 1.4 million residents versus focusing only on the district they represent. By reducing the time candidates spend on fundraising to remain competitive in city-wide races, candidates can focus on delivering solutions to parents, students and their communities.

BRING SDUSD IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE LAW
In May 2017, the San Diego County Grand Jury found that the current election process does not result in a board reflecting the diversity of the district. However, they found that district-only elections assure voters of each district fairer representation on the school board. The SDUSD is the only governing body that elects their representatives under the current system in San Diego. The School Board must change from at-large elections to district elections to avoid future lawsuits.

WHO OPPOSES DISTRICT ELECTIONS?
Special interest groups oppose district elections because it threatens their influence over the selection of board members. According to the National League of Cities, at-large elections weaken the representation of people of color. That’s why incumbent school board members continue to win elections without opposition.

VOTE YES ON MEASURE C

/signed/

CHRIS CATE
Councilmember
City of San Diego, District Six

MONICA MONTGOMERY
Councilmember
City of San Diego, District Four

ELLEN NASH
Chair
BAPAC San Diego

WENDELL BASS
Retired Principal

TOM KELIINOI
President
Parents for Quality Education

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/ballotmeasureargumentsnovember2020.pdf#page=6

— San Diego City Clerk

Arguments AGAINST

ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE C

Measure C is a very bad idea.

Classroom teachers, Taxpayer Advocates, Civil Rights Champions and Parent Leaders Oppose Measure C.

Measure C is deceptive. Don’t be fooled. It does NOT increase community participation. In fact, it does just the opposite.

Don’t give up your right to vote.
Presently, every voter in the entire school district votes for all 5 members of the School Board who make the critical decisions affecting every San Diego school.

If Measure C passes, you will only be able to vote for 1 school board member not 5. The other 4 will be elected by voters from other communities. You will have absolutely no say in choosing 80% of the school board.

Board members from other communities will be able to decide what happens to your neighborhood school. They could move teachers, nurses and counselors in or out, or close schools – even over the objections of the board member representing your area.

The present system balances community needs and larger concerns, ensuring every board member cares about all the kids in every neighborhood in San Diego Unified.

Measure C will open the door for Chicago-style Ward Politics and corruption.
Measure C creates 5 small “wards” or Districts that can be dominated by big money special interests. Outside corporations and shady operators with designs on the District’s $1.2 billion budget will be able to elect board members who are beholden to them. In fact, the special interests who want to privatize public education are behind Measure C.

Measure C will hurt low-income kids.
Measure C will cram low-income neighborhoods into one or two “wards” or Districts. Vote rich areas will be able to elect a board majority and dominate school funding and other educational decisions.

Measure C is a very bad idea. Vote NO on Measure C.

/signed/

SCOTT BARNETT
President, San Diego Taxpayers Advocate,
Former Executive Director,
San Diego Taxpayers Association

DR. KYRA GREENE
Policy Advocate for Working Families

AMY DENHART
Elected Parent Leader
San Diego High School

TAMMY REINA
San Diego County Teacher of the Year

 

https://www.sandiego.gov/sites/default/files/ballotmeasureargumentsnovember2020.pdf#page=7

— San Diego City Clerk

More information

Use tabs to select your choice. Use return to create a choice. You can access your choices by navigating to 'My Choices'.

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure C

Organizations (2)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure C
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

Please share this site to help others research their voting choices.

PUBLISHING:PRODUCTION SERVER:PRODUCTION